Given some of the best things to do in Asheville is hiking, eating, drinking, and diving into its unique history. It’s no surprise Asheville, North Carolina has quickly become one of our favorite towns in the entire country.
We’ve visited four separate times and continuously find new things to do in Asheville. If you’re visiting for a weekend trip and are looking to see the highlights of the city. This blog post has got you covered. Here are 8 of the best things to do in Asheville on a weekend getaway.
When to visit Asheville
Nestled over 6,000 ft high in the Blue Ridge mountains Asheville has something to enjoy in all four seasons. However, what you do will depend on when you’re visiting.
Summer and fall are the most popular times to visit thanks to their warmer weather (great for hiking and tubing). While fall has ideal conditions for leaf-peeping. However, this also means the city will be met with large crowds.
Winters are cold in Asheville. It doesn’t snow often in the city but snow is almost guaranteed in the surrounding mountains. With that being said, some of the best things to do in Asheville (like visiting the Biltmore at Christmas) happen in the off-season.
Spring is probably the best time to go because there are fewer crowds and still fair enough weather to explore outdoors. But summer and fall are the most popular times to visit.
We’ve visited in all four seasons and equally loved our time there. If you’re only visiting Asheville for a weekend, you’ll want to plan your itinerary carefully. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, but many of the places will require pre-planning or reservations. If you’re going in peak season make sure to book in advance.
Best things to do in Ashville, North Carolina
There’s no way you’re going to see and do it all in a few days. However, this list will certainly help you get a better idea of some of the best things to do in Asheville and plan your trip accordingly.
1. Take a scenic drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville is nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most iconic drives in all of the United States. If you are looking for a scenic drive, I highly recommend hopping on the parkway and taking a leisure stroll through the mountains. There are several overlooks to stop at and breathtaking views along the way.
This drive is absolutely breathtaking in the fall. Some parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed for winter. So, keep that in mind if this is an activity you are wanting to experience on your weekend trip to Asheville.
2. Tour the Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate is the largest home in America and an incredible piece of history. Originally built by the Vanderbilt Family in 1895 this home was the private residence and vacation home for one of the wealthiest families in US history.
The Biltmore is still owned (and visited) by the Biltmore family, but it’s been made available to the public through guided tours.
Visitors can now tour the 8,000-acre estate, including a stop at its vineyard, gardens, a tour of its organic farm, and 175,000 square-foot home. The tours aren’t cheap, but we definitely think it’s worth the money. We took an audio tour and absolutely loved it.
Pro Tip: Skip the wine tasting and dinner at the Biltmore and go to one of the amazing restaurants in town instead.
3. Go for a hike
Asheville is surrounded by forests and mountains, making it a great place for hiking. There are dozens of hikes to try within a short 30-minute to an-hour drive, making it a perfect day or afternoon activity. During the summer, we hiked to Buttermilk Falls which was just under 3 miles roundtrip and great for all ages. Just be prepared for a crowd and come early, as this is one of the most popular trails for hiking in Asheville.
On our last trip, we headed into Pisgah National Forest about 45 minutes southwest of Asheville just outside of the city of Brevard. This was our first time in the area and we really enjoyed it. It’s also filled with fantastic hiking.
We hiked Moore Cove while in Pisgah, which allows you to walk behind the waterfall! If you’re looking for different trails nearby, we highly recommend All Trails, which has both a free and paid version of its app for hiking.
4. Visit the North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum is a great stop if you’re looking to spend some time in nature. They have a wide variety of plants and gardens with gorgeous vistas of the Pisgah National Forest. We visited close to Christmas time and they were preparing for a special light show which happens during the Holidays.
5. Go tubing down the French Broad River
If you’re coming to Asheville in the summertime a must-do activity is floating down the French Broad River. Tubing in Asheville is an iconic activity that can be done in an afternoon or full day if you include stops at the many riverside restaurants, bars, or breweries like New Belgium.
If you want to do it yourself, you can purchase tubes from a store and enter at the Hominy Creek River Park near the Biltmore or Carrier Park near downtown. Then take an Uber or cab back to your hotel once you get out of the river. But for most visitors, it will be easier to book this experience through a tour company. They will provide tubes, drop you off, and pick you up when you’re done floating.
There are several tour companies that offer this service, but two popular companies are Zen Tubing and French Broad Outfitters. The cost for the experience will run anywhere from $12.50 for minors to $30 per adult. Make reservations as the rivers get packed in the summer season.
6. Visit one of Ashville’s gorgeous waterfalls
The forests and mountains surrounding Asheville are home to close to 75 waterfalls. A short 15 to 30-minute drive in almost direction means you can enjoy a breathtaking view or cool off in the refreshing and brisk water of the falls.
A few popular hikes and waterfalls in the area are Rainbow Falls, Catawba Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Crabtree Falls.
If you’re looking for more adventure in your waterfall hunting, make sure to stop at Sliding Rock. Located in the Pisgah National Forest about a 45-minute drive from Asheville, visitors can pay a mere $4 entry fee to slide down a 60-foot slope-shaped waterfall. This place gets popular so it’s a good idea to come early. If the parking lot fills up that means it’s full and they won’t let new visitors in.
7. Grab a brew from one of Asheville’s breweries
Asheville North Carolina is a beer city. Home to roughly 20 breweries, it’s got no shortage of fantastic beer to try. Many breweries are located right along the river, making them the perfect stop if you are tubing. But a beer crawl is a must in this city.
If we could only go to one brewery it would be Burial Beer Co. In our opinion, it’s the best brewery in the city. Their beers were super flavorful, creative, and well-balanced. Plus their food menu was fantastic.
If you’re looking for other recommendations for the best Asheville breweries to visit on your trip, make sure to check out this blog post that covers each of them individually.
8. Eat some tasty food
Asheville is a seriously tasty city. We have been blown away by their food scene and are constantly discovering new fantastic restaurants to eat at in or return visits. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
Like any city, this guide is intended to help you make the most of your visit whether it be a few days or a week long. There is always something new to enjoy and explore here.
We hope you enjoyed this travel guide to Asheville including the best restaurants, breweries, and things to do. Let us know in the comments your favorite activities in the area in the comments below, and if you found it helpful share it with others!